Monday, March 18, 2024

The Hobbit

The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings, #0)The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Bilbo Baggins is recruited by Gandalf to accompany 13 dwarves to reclaim a lost dwarven stronghold, he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

I don't remember when the first time I read this was or if I've even read it more than once. I do know that I bought a snazzy illustrated hardcover of The Hobbit at a Borders in 2008, as it says on the intact receipt, and never read it until this weekend.

So everyone probably knows the bare bones of the plot by now. Homebody Bilbo Baggins gets dragged into an adventure, finds a ring that turns him invisible, and gets in a whole mess of trouble. It's one of the inspirations for Dungeons & Dragons and a big swathe of the fantasy genre. I've had fond memories of it for years.

I still dig the hell out of The Hobbit after several decades. Sure, nobody other than Bilbo has any agency and Gandalf is a deus ex machina at a couple points in the tale but it's still a fun journey with monsters, elves, giant eagles, even a dragon. I felt physically weary by the end, much like Bilbo, but part of that was I wolfed this down over the course of a day and a half. It would have been a few hours less but the in-laws stuck around longer than I thought they would.

Tolkien was a linguist rather than a writer and it shows at times. There's some phrasing that was awkward and it takes a while for things to happen. Still, he was an imaginative guy. I wonder how much of the final battle came from his experiences in World War I, or the Great War as it was called at the time. I am not ashamed to say that I skipped all the songs, much as I did on previous readings.

Do I still love The Hobbit? Yes. Do I love it enough to reread Lord of the Rings? Not just yet.

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